When the Arsenal and Egypt international midfield star Mohamed Elneny headed off to Gabon to meet up with his national team recently for the latest version of the African Cup of Nations, it did not appear to pose too much of a problem for Arsene Wenger.
Even though the Gunners are still having to cope with the long term injury to Santi Cazorla, we were about to get our most defensively strong central midfielder back as Francis Coquelin’s own small injury lay-off was coming to an end. So with Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey to contend with Coquelin we seemed to have enough cover until Elneny returned.
So Arsenal fans and our manager have yet another reason to be frustrated with Xhaka after the Swiss international was shown yet another red card in the Premier League win over Burnley on Sunday. Now the Frenchman really is down to the bare bones in the centre of the pitch and we have some important games coming up.
The FA cup is realistically our best chance of a trophy this season and the Gunners have a tough away draw at Southampton at the weekend to get through, before Watford in the league on Tuesday and then the big one away to Chelsea.
What if Coquelin or Ramsey pick up an injury or a sending off? We could really do with Egypt making an early AFCON exit and Elneny coming back to north London quick sharp and it could well happen. They have drawn one and won one so far and their final group game tomorrow is against the group leaders Ghana. If they lose and Mali beat the bottom side Uganda then it will see Egypt knocked out and Arsenal could really do with that boost for this vital period of the season.
Will we be that lucky? Come on you Ghanaians and Malians….